Feed aggregator

Missive From the Prince & Princess: State Dinner at Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-30 15:58

Greeting unto Sylvan Æthelmearc from Sven and Siobhán, Prince and Princess.

Good people, after much deliberation with our Royal Cousins of the East and Midrealm, as well as counsel from our peers of Æthelmearc , we have made several important decisions regarding the upcoming Pennsic War.We march into Pennsic on a road paved with almost fifty years of traditions. Many of those traditions are based in the East and Mid bearing the weight of responsibility for many of the royal functions. Although there has been ongoing dialog of how to include Æthelmearc and creating a treaty to memorialize the rotation, nothing has ever been documented. When the subject was broached with the current Heirs of East and Mid, they remain strong in the standing traditions. Together, they have requested Æthelmearc allow them to once again continue the tradition of hosting the State Dinner and Queen’s Tea this Pennsic.

Though a difficult decision, we graciously consented with the understanding that dialog concerning a treaty will continue and in hopes that our good will shall foster the growth of said treaty. We also requested that our Kingdom be provided some sort of goods or services for our graciousness! Their Highnesses have all agreed.

While this may seem like bad news, we will instead look at it as an opportunity to create new traditions and hope to use this as a springboard to make Pennsic stronger and better for all.

Ad Gloriam Æthelmearc!

Prince Sven and Princess Siobhán

Categories: SCA news sites

Bronze Age toys found in Siberia

History Blog - Fri, 2017-12-29 23:01

Archaeologists excavating the Bronze Age burial ground of Itkol II in the Republic of Khakassia, southern Siberia, have unearthed two children’s toys from the Okunev culture. They’re the heads of figurines. One is a soapstone cylindrical piece about two inches long with finely carved facial features. The striking eyes and long eyelashes or brows may suggest a female face. The other is the head of an animal of undetermined type (horse? dragon? dog? seahorse?) carved out of horn or antler. No remains of the figurines’ bodies, likely made from an organic material or materials, have survived.

Each were discovered in a child’s grave. The burial itself was a simple commoner’s grave, so these were not elite grave goods. (The elite were buried in large, well-appointed tumuli, a distinctly fancier setting than these inhumations.) The lack of symbols, carvings or any other indications of a ritual or religious significance suggests the carvings weren’t talismans or charms to accompany the dead, but the beloved toys of an all too brief childhood.

The Okunev culture is seen as having links to Native Americans – and this is not the first time their toys have been found.

Indeed, the latest finds add to an intriguing collection. A figurine of a pagan god pulled out of a Siberian river by an angler was likely a child’s toy or rattle to ward off evil spirits. It has almond-shaped eyes, a large mouth with full lips, and a ferocious facial expression. On the back is ‘plaited hair with wave like lines. Below the plait there are lines looking like fish scales.’

Fisherman Nikolay Tarasov made ‘the catch of a lifetime’, said museum staff.

At the time of its discovery archaeologists were less definitive about which culture may have created the rattle or idol. The Okunev weren’t the only people in the area about 4,000 years ago. It also wasn’t certain that it actually was a toy, even though the press ran with the idea that it was a child’s rattle made to look fearsome. Many “oldest toy in the world looks like scary old fishgod!1” headlines ensued. At least these two pieces were found in undisturbed children’s graves in an extensively explored Okunev burial ground used by people of various social levels for centuries, so the speculation is a tad more grounded in archaeological context.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

In Memoriam: Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-12-29 19:55

Mistress Achren, with Master John the Artificer in the background. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi.

The AEthelmearc Gazette is saddened to report the passing of Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands, also known as Achren Ancyros (Ruth Reilly) on December 18th after a long illness. She was 88.

Mistress Achren joined the SCA in the late 1970s along with her son, Lord Rolf Schwartz, and later her daughter, Monica. She served as Baronial Chirurgeon, helped autocrat events, and cooked feasts, including a memorable late period German one for which she was positively gleeful at being able to show documentation for potatoes within period. However, she was better known for her poetry and work in theater arts. She organized performances of comedies by members of the Debatable Lands at events, with a group initially dubbed “Commedia Forensica,” but later renamed the “Dismal Players” in honor of Earl Yngvar the Dismal, first King of AEthelmearc, who agreed to be their patron.

A performance by Commedia Forensica. L-R: Lord Rolf Schwartz, Mistress Achren, and her daughter Monica. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Being older than many of the other members of the Barony-Marche, Mistress Achren became an adopted mother to many Debatable Landers. She opened her home to Scadians, fed them, advised them, and helped them in many ways. Mistress Linette de Gallardon, once a student in the Debatable Lands and currently living in the Shire of Owlsherst in the East Kingdom, wrote: “Achren was so very kind to me when I joined the SCA almost thirty years ago. She hosted many a gathering in her home – all of my fond gaming memories are around her dining table. She knew I was struggling financially and always found a subtle way to sneakily give me something to eat or take home “oh, no one here will eat it, will you take it?” Conversations at her house were never boring, flitting from subject to subject with lightening speed. She was such a wonderful person.”

Scroll petitioning then-Prince Yngvar and Princess Caryl to become Commedia Forensica’s patrons. Photo courtesy of Earl Yngvar the Dismal.

Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora of the Debatable Lands, who fought for the honor of Mistress Achren in a number of Crown Tournaments, recalls, “I met Achren some time before I finished my PhD, which would make it at least 35 years ago. She opened her home to me as well as to many others. I lived in a bedroom on her second floor for some months back in the day. Achren did a good deal of painting with period pigments; that is the art for which I remember her. She, along with Rolf and John, ran the CHAT guild- Chirurgeons, Thaumaturgists, Hermeticists, and Alchemists- which met on the 5th Tuesday of every month. She was brilliant, and I learned a great deal of history from her. I remember talking at length about the Bronze Age, the Antikythera Mechanism, Pompei and the volcano at Thera. This was a large part of the inspiration for the Bronze Age Events, the two events that I have ever autocratted. I will say that though her lungs were giving out, her mind was undimmed when I last saw her. We talked about politics, science, science fiction, and philosophy. She was an amazing and compassionate woman.”

Achren was known for her keen wit and brilliant mind. Dame Margaret Makafee of the Debatable Lands remembers her “brain shifting to high gear in a conversation, because Achren, with that sweet sly smile, asked the question that drove through the gaping hole in your thesis.” She continued, there was “the joy to know she was in camp and feeling well, or how she made you feel right at home — in her home, in her camp, or wherever she was.”

Mistress Achren received her AoA in 1982, was made a Court Baroness in 1988, added to the Order of the Silver Crescent (East Kingdom’s order for service) in 1994 for founding Chirurgeon’s Point at Pennsic, and eventually inducted into the Order of the Laurel in 1998. She also held numerous Comets from the Debatable Lands for arts and service.

L-R: Mistress Roxane the Tempting, Mistress Achren, and Duchess Morgen of Rye. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Maistir Brandubh o Donghaile and Mistress Hilderun Hugelmann, Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, said, “We are greatly saddened by [Mistress Achren’s passing], and have missed her quick wit and mischievous smile. Our heartfelt condolences to those that were close to her. We welcome ideas on how to honor her memory here in our Barony.”

Mistress Achren is survived by her children, Lord Rolf (Paul Reilly), Vincent Reilly, and Monica Reilly; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; her former apprentice, THLady Margery of Kent; and her long-time companion, Master John the Artificer. Her obituary is available here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Even more bullae found in Doliche

History Blog - Thu, 2017-12-28 23:45

The ancient site of Doliche near modern-day Dülük in southern Turkey has done it again. An international team of archaeologists led by Dr. Engelbert Winter of the University of Münster has unearthed more than 1,000 bullae or clay seal impressions from Doliche’s municipal archive.

Doliche was renown throughout the Greek and Roman world for its shrine to Jupiter. Jupiter Dolichenus was a syncretic iteration, a composite of the original Hittite sky/storm god Tesub-Hadad with the Greco-Roman god of lightning Zeus/Jupiter, but the mystery religion spread widely after the Romans conquered the city in 64 B.C. and had adherents all over the empire, including the most desirable adherents a sanctuary might want, i.e., emperors.

Dr. Winter and his team discovered evidence found more than 600 seals in the excavation of 2013. They were votive offerings made to the temple long before the Roman conquest — between the 7th and 4th centuries B.C.) which gave historians a rare chance to study the religious culture and imagery of the ancient city before the deity was absorbed into the Greco-Roman pantheon. The cache discovered this season is later in date (2nd-3rd centuries A.D.) and many pieces of it appear to be official administrative seals from the city archives. Their large size, their discovery in the city rather than the temple precinct and some inscriptions attest to their origin.

Engelbert Winter on the significance of this major distinction:

“The fact that administrative authorities sealed hundreds of documents with the images of gods shows how strongly religious beliefs shaped everyday life.”

“The cult of Jupiter Dolichenus did not only take place in the nearby central temple, but also left its mark on urban life,” he said.

“It also becomes apparent how strongly Jupiter Dolichenus, originally worshipped at this location, was connected with the entire Roman Empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE: many of the images show the god shaking hands with various Roman emperors.”

The gods depicted on the seals are also rife with political and civic meaning.

“In addition to the images of the ‘city goddess’ Tyche, the depictions of Augustus and Dea Roma deserve special attention, since they point to the important role of the Roman emperor and the personified goddess of the Roman state for the town of Doliche, which lies on the eastern border of the Roman Empire,” Professor Winter said.

“However, the central motif is the most important god of the city, Jupiter Dolichenus. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, his cult spread into large parts of the Mediterranean world, extending as far as Britain.”

“Therefore, it is not surprising that hundreds of documents were sealed with images showing a handshake between this deity and an emperor. It was a sign of the god’s affinity to the Roman state.”

Doliche’s deep bench produced other exceptional finds this year. Archaeologists discovered a brilliantly colored ancient mosaic floor underneath a later ancient floor in a three-aisled building complex. The mosaic is believed to around 400 A.D., and Winter thinks it is from a Christian church built there in late antiquity. Winter’s team has been excavating the church since 2015 and 150 square meters (1615 square feet) of the nave have been revealed this year.

But wait, there’s more!

The researchers also found the public center of the town of Doliche, which they had initially located by geophysical prospecting in the east of the city. “This assumption has been confirmed,” said the excavation leader. “We were able to expose parts of a very large building: it is a well-preserved mosaic baths of the Roman Empire. As there are hardly any Roman thermal springs in the region, this discovery is of great scientific importance. “The research team from Münster also brought new insights into the extent of the city area and the chronology of the city: A year on the settlement hill of the ancient city, The Keber Tepe, carried out intensive survey led to quite surprising results: “A variety of Stone Age finds indicate that Keber Tepe was evidently a very significant place from a very early age. Doliche then reached its greatest extent in the Roman and early Byzantine period.”

These kind of fantastically layered, information-rich finds are why Winter, his co-workers and sponsors have been going back to the site every year since 2001.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Webminister Letters of Intent Sought

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-12-28 17:15

Unto the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, does your Kingdom Webminister send warm greetings!

It is time for a call for letters of intent for anyone interested in the Office of Kingdom Webminister. This is for a two-year term, starting at Spring Crown Tournament. With that said, I am planning to seek a second term as Kingdom Webminister.

The Webminister’s Office is responsible for maintaining the Kingdom Website, forms and docs spaces, and email forwarders.

Additionally, the Webminister is to assist webministers of local groups, Kingdom guilds and Polling Orders, and Kingdom offices with any web-related issues as well as collect reports every quarter and submit quarterly reports to the Society Webminister. The Webminister oversees the Event Coordinator and works very closely with this position to keep the Kingdom Calendar up-to-date and also works very closely with the Kingdom Chronicler as well. Finally, the Webminister checks for compliance issues throughout Kingdom websites and also makes recommendations to Society level for the William Blackfox Web Awards.

The average time spent working on Kingdom Webminister duties is roughly 2 to 10 hours per week, depending on the time of month and issues that arise. Skills required for this position are a working knowledge of websites and web servers, email, cPanel, WordPress, HTML, and Spreadsheets.

I am available to discuss any questions you may have about the office via email, Facebook (Peri Nelson-Sukert) or phone (please email for phone number).

Letters of intent should be sent to the following email address. This email will forward to Their Royal Majesties, the Kingdom Seneschal, and the Kingdom Webminister. Please have all letters submitted by April 1, 2018.

In service to Æthelmearc, Amalie

Categories: SCA news sites

Visitor identifies plant decorating medieval chest

History Blog - Wed, 2017-12-27 23:51

The Billingford Hutch, a large and sturdily-built oak chest with heavy iron bands, hasps and locks, was used as a strongbox in the late Middle Ages. It’s named after Richard de Billingford, who was the 5th Master of Corpus Christi College (founded in 1352), mastering it for an impressively long stint from 1398 until 1432. In 1420, he started the college’s loan program, donating what was then the princely sum of £20 as seed money to loan to scholars chronically low on cash. They could withdraw funds up to 40 shillings (ca. £2) using their valuables (manuscripts, mainly) as collateral. The £20 was kept in a locked chest under the vigilant eye of three custodians until a withdrawal was made. The books or other valuables the debtor was using as collateral were then placed in the chest until the establish repayment deadline. If the debtor did not manage to pay back the loan on time, his stuff was sold immediately and the sum owed returned to the chest. If the items sold for more the amount owed, that went into the chest too. The debtor got none of it.

The university loan chest system was widely practiced in institutes of higher learning at that time. Billingford didn’t invent it; he was the first to implement it at Corpus Christi is all. Other colleges at Cambridge had chests of their own, but most of the chest themselves are long lost. Corpus Christi still has their iron and oak ACME safe, and even more rarely, it has retained the registers that recorded the cash and collateral flow for more than three centuries. It’s because of those registers that we know how frequently the loan chest was used and by whom. Every fellow and master at the college is listed as having borrowed from it, and while as you might expect manuscripts do dominate, what with them being academics and all, they also used precious religious objects, silver spoons and salt cellars.

The chest itself likely predates 1420, but we don’t know its exact age. Nobody knew why the locks were decorated with images of an undetermined leaf either. That changed in September of this year when the chest was moved to Parker Library and fell under the unblinking Sauron-like eye of one particular visitor. Check out this wonderfully nerdy chain of events:

Jeremy Purseglove, environmentalist and Cambridge resident, visited the Library during Open Cambridge in September 2017. “It was a wonderful chance to get a glimpse of some of the Library’s medieval manuscripts,” he said. “We were given a fascinating talk by Alexander Devine, one of the librarians. He showed us a massive chest that had recently been moved to the Library from elsewhere in the College. My eye was drawn to the leaf shapes in the metal work.”

The chest is made from oak planks and measures approximately 1.8m x 0.5m x 0.4m. It is reinforced by numerous iron bands and five iron hasps, secured in three locks, all operated by different keys. Each of the lock plates (the metal plates containing the locks, hasps and keyholes) is decorated with the outline of a plant punched into the metal.

No-one knew the significance of this decorative detail. Purseglove, who is passionate about plants, suspected the distinctive shape was likely to be that of moonwort, a fern much mentioned by 16th-century herbalists. He said: “I rushed home and looked it up. I found that it had been associated with the opening of locks and guarding of silver.”

It was such a strong association that herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote about it in his seminal 1653 volume The Complete Herbal. His description of the plant is as artfully rendered as the motif on the chest’s iron fittings:

It rises up usually with but one dark green, thick and flat leaf, standing upon a short foot-stalk not above two fingers breadth; but when it flowers it may be said to bear a small slender stalk about four or five inches high, having but one leaf in the middle thereof, which is much divided on both sides into sometimes five or seven parts on a side, sometimes more; each of which parts is small like the middle rib, but broad forwards, pointed and round, resembling therein a half-moon, from whence it took the name; the uppermost parts or divisions being bigger than the lowest. The stalks rise above this leaf two or three inches, bearing many branches of small long tongues, every one like the spiky head of the adder’s tongue, of a brownish colour, (which, whether I shall call them flowers, or the seed, I well know not) which, after they have continued awhile, resolve into a mealy dust.

Governed by the celestial power of our satellite, moonwort leaves were reputedly an excellent tonic against menstrual irregularities, vaginal discharge (if you’ve ever read old medical books, and I have, you’ll know that how to combat the scourge of “the whites” was a huge subject of discussion for centuries), and another other unwanted emission of body fluid. Culpepper thought it was most effective in combination with other herbs to help heal wounds. He concludes his description with a reference to its vaunted lock-picking powers:

Moonwort is an herb which (they say) will open locks, and unshoe such horses as tread upon it. This some laugh to scorn, and those no small fools neither; but country people, that I know, call it Unshoe the Horse. Besides I have heard commanders say, that on White Down in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty horse shoes, pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex’s horses, being there drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly shod, and no reason known, which caused much admiration: the herb described usually grows upon heaths.

Hmmm…Seems like it would be the opposite of something you’d want guarding the locks on your cash and saleable goods. Oh well, can’t argue with results, I suppose. The Billingford Hutch kept its secrets close for 500 years, first money and valuables, then information.

[Librarian Alexander] Devine said: “The Billingford Hutch is probably the best surviving example of its kind in Europe. To have a possible answer to the puzzle of its decorative motif is fantastic. We’re immensely grateful to Jeremy for enriching our understanding of its history. His wonderful discovery is further proof that sharing your collections with the public is the key to unlocking their secrets.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Kingdom Seneschal Meeting at Dancing Fox

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 23:29


I will be holding a meeting of the officers and members of the Shire of Frosted Hills at Dancing Fox in the Shire of Nordenhalle on February 3, 2018, immediately following court.

If you are an officer of Frosted Hills, or if you reside within the Shire, I strongly suggest that you attend this meeting.

This meeting is also open to the seneschals of the neighboring groups.

Thank you.

Katherine Barr

East Kingdom Seneschal

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Dancing Fox, Frosted Hills, seneschal

In Memoriam: Lady Bryn Millar

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 17:43

Lady Bryn Millar¹

Lady Bryn Millar of the Barony of Endewearde passed away on December 24th, 2017 following a short illness.

Lady Bryn was one of the earliest members of the then Shire of Endewearde, active in her local group for more than 25 years, and received her Award of Arms in 1994 from Gregor and Christence. She was devoted to the art of the rapier, well known in the lists and also a dedicated and active teacher, serving the rapier community as a marshal (and recently as a youth marshal) and also helped to foster a decades-long partnership with the fencing club at a local University. She held the rank of Captain in the Northguard Rapier company, and was recognized as a Captain of Fence (“gold cord”) by the League of Rapier Academies. In 2014 she was awarded the Portcullis of Endewearde in recognition of her martial skill and service. In 2015 she was inducted into the newly formed Order of the Silver Rapier by Omega V & Etheldreda IV at Great Northeastern War.


Bryn also served Endewearde and the Kingdom in many other capacities. She understood early on how to use the internet as a tool for SCA communication and recruitment, and served as her local Webminster for 18 years. She was autocrat or head cook for many local events, and she and her beloved husband, Don Jordan Harvey, opened their home for picnics and gatherings. In addition, she was a gifted needle-worker, holding a Journeyman rank with the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble. In 2003 she was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent by Andreas II and Isabella II in recognition of her long service, and in 2015 she was recognized with the Keystone of Endewearde, the Baronial service award, and also with the Queen’s Award of Esteem by Etheldreda IV for her timely work in communicating some important last minute changes to the location of an event.


East Kingdom Web Minister Maistir Mael Eoin mac Echuid posted the following message about her work for the Webministry, “There’s a handful of people who are active every day in our online chat, then there’s another handful who aren’t there daily but who are regulars and routinely interactive. Bryn was one of those.


While she wasn’t someone who does a lot related to the office outside of the office – as a hobby or day job – she always wanted to know what was going on, how and why we were doing things, and how it might relate to her and her group. She was always inquisitive, eager to know more, and stayed on  top of happenings in her office. Ahead of things, even, in being part of the daily and weekly chats.


To see how much more she did before and in addition to being a webminister? Inspiring… I am sorry I did not know her better, but I hope to follow her examples as best I can.”


Founding member of Endewearde, Mistress Brita Mairi Svensdottir, related “Bryn tirelessly wrote deserving people in for awards. Her dedication to keeping up with our many activities and posting timely changes and reminders on our web site, and her assistance with demos and teaching rapier combat are just some examples of the impact she has made in our barony. We will miss her.” Master Frasier MacLeod adds the following rememberance, “Lady Bryn Millar was part of the glue that helped hold the Barony of Endewearde together. She was one of those constants that made things go, made things happen. She was passionate about her beliefs and the things she held dear and worked tirelessly to improve them, the Barony not the least of those things. She was a longtime Baronial Rapier Marshal, and also served as Youth Marshal along with her husband, Don Jordan Harvey. Her absence will leave a hole in the Barony and the North that will be very difficult to fill.”


Lady Bryn Millar²

Sir Ané du Vey, Baron Endewearde, shared this: “Most know of Lady Bryn Millar’s long time dedication to the SCA fencing community. She has been a steady member for over 26 years.  She was a fencer, a teacher, and a marshal. Her commitment to fence, however, extended well beyond our walls. For most of the last 20 years she has served as a coach and advisor for the fencing club of her local college, and helping to start a love of fencing for many.  For this, and more, Lady Bryn Millar stands as one the premiere members of Endewearde’s Order of the Portcullis, for martial prowess.


Even more than her love for fence, Bryn cared deeply for the SCA and for Endewearde. She has always been one of key forces keeping things moving in Endewearde. She was an organizer not just of events (which she worked many) but of people. It was often Bryn that reminded people of the things that needed to be done. I can’t count the number of times she reminded me to think ahead about the schedule for local practices, or upcoming workshops. It was Bryn who has managed our web presence since its very beginning. It was Bryn who created and kept our Order of Precedence. It was Bryn who kept our calendar organized and updated, and it was Bryn who made sure this information got out to everyone as quickly as possible. Bryn not only made sure things were done… she made sure things were done right. All this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface or the reasons why Lady Bryn Millar holds Endewearde’s order of the Keystone, for service.


More importantly than any of this… Bryn was a friend. Her loss will leave a hole in our Barony for a long time to come.”


A memorial service for Lady Bryn will be held on December 28th. Details can be found in her obituary by clicking here (Bangor Daily News).


1. Photo Courtesy of Mistress Camille des Jardins 2. Photo Courtesy of Baron Brenden Crane
Filed under: In Memoriam Tagged: Endewearde, In Memoriam

GoFundMe to Aid Delftwood Family Following House Fire

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 17:38

Greetings, Generous Æthelmearc!

On Monday, December 25, 2017, Lord Dubhgall Domnall MacNayre (Don Ackley-Perot) and Lady Keara Caitlyn MacLeod (Suzanne Ackley-Perot) of Delftwood lost everything in a house fire. They were not home at the time, so their family is safe and unharmed, and they are currently staying with friends. One of their cats is safe, but they lost one dog, and their other dog and two cats are still missing.

They are in need of all basic items so that they can return to a somewhat normal life.

Clothing is needed immediately:

  • Women’s size 24 pants, 3x tops preferably loose fit, 10 wide shoe
  • Men’s 36×30, size large shirts, 11 shoe
  • Men’s 40/42×30, size 2× shirts, 12 wide shoe

A GoFundMe page has been set up: https://www.gofundme.com/donsuzanne-ackleyperot-fire-fund

You can also contact Kate Turnbole, who is coordinating efforts for Don and Suzanne, at ladyotter@gmail.com or on Facebook as Kate Trnble.

A possible fundraiser is also in the works for Kingdom 12th Night, pending discussions with the Kingdom Exchequer on making sure it meets SCA guidelines. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

To read more about the fire, follow these links: https://www.facebook.com/417244368387792/posts/1421869494591936


Thank you for your help.

Categories: SCA news sites

You Can Run a Kingdom Event

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 14:29

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope discusses the ins and outs of running a Kingdom event.

Perhaps you’ve seen the announcements. “The Kingdom Seneschal is looking for a bid for this Kingdom event to be held in Region [number].” Or even “The Kingdom Seneschal hasn’t received any bids for [xyz] Kingdom event and so is opening it to other regions.”

Why are so few people willing to bid on Kingdom events?

Are you an experienced autocrat but intimidated by the idea of running a Kingdom event?

Don’t be!

Here’s a guide to the different types of events run by or for the Kingdom, and what the autocrat’s responsibilities are. You may be surprised to find out how easy running a Kingdom event can be. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine for smaller shires to ask nearby groups to contribute staff members, or for multiple shires and baronies to collaborate on a bid. Bids generally go to the Kingdom Seneschal and the Crown, but check below for exceptions. There’s a form to fill out when submitting event bids, located on the Seneschal’s page of the Kingdom website  here. Bids are generally due about 6 months ahead of the event date, so plan ahead!

For more information about running a Kingdom event, read article VIII-100 of Kingdom Law, also available at the link above.

Note: for the purpose of this article, we’ll discuss both “official” Kingdom events and events that are not officially Kingdom events but are often thought of that way. Also, different autocrats may have different opinions on how events should be run. There’s no one right way, and this is not meant as an exhaustive article on how to run events in general.


Believe it or not, Crown Tourney is one of the simplest Kingdom events you can run. That’s because almost all of the activities are run by the Kingdom officers. Traditional dates are in October and May. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Likely attendance: 150-250

Your responsibilities:

  • A site that can accommodate a tournament with four lists about 20-25 ft square each, plus surrounding pavilions. Call it a total of about 100’ x 100’ space, though you can also have a rectangle with four lists strung out longitudinally. Outdoors is ok, indoor options for fighting are nice but not required. It would be nice if there was an indoor space for non-fighters to escape to in case of inclement weather as well as for court, but some Crowns have been fought at campsites with just pavilions. Showers will make the fighters Very Happy, but they’re not required.
  • List ropes and posts. Check with the Crown in case they choose to bring the Kingdom list fence, but most royalty don’t have the cargo space for it.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard. If you want to hold a feast too, that’s great, but it’s not required and the vast majority of attendees won’t stay for it. Expect everyone for lunch, but maybe 50-75 for a feast.
  • Space for court. This can be outdoors, but you run the risk of being rained out or, if the tourney runs long, losing the light.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs.

Optionally your responsibility, i.e., you could provide these but are not necessarily expected to do so unless requested by the incoming Royalty:

  • Someone to run an A&S display
  • Someone to organize children’s activities
  • Someone to run dancing
  • Musicians for processionals

NOT your responsibility:

  • Running the tourney. The Kingdom provides the MOLs, marshals, and heralds, though your local officers may wish to assist.
  • Any other activities. Our recent fall Crown was an exception because it was AEthelmearc’s 20th Anniversary, but generally, there are no other activities at Crown besides the tourney. People may ask to have A&S things, or the Kingdom Historian might want to put up a display, but even those aren’t typical.

Potential pitfalls:

  • If the weather is bad and you have no indoor fighting space, people will be cranky. At one Crown it rained so much the list field became a quagmire. There was even discussion of moving the remainder of the tourney to an indoor site 40 miles away (!) but eventually House Arindale offered its very large pavilion, and the last few rounds were fought inside the pavilion.
  • The lunch sideboard should be served on the tourney field, if possible, or in a building adjacent to the field. Make sure most or all of the offerings are finger food that fighters and their consorts can grab and dash without needing feast gear. As a courtesy, provide platters of food delivered directly to the Crown, MOLs, Marshals, and Heralds since they may not have time to leave their posts.
  • Appoint someone to take reservations for pavilions to be placed around the list field. Have them collect sizes and make a map so the pavilions don’t end up blocking access to the field or set up so close to the list that there’s no room for spectators.

Augustus Tindal crowns Byron as King of Æthelmearc. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.


Coronations are more work that Crowns, but still not a huge time investment compared to a local event. The focus is mostly on the two courts – the Last Court of the outgoing monarchs, usually in the morning, followed immediately by the Coronation ceremony, and then the First Court of the new monarchs, usually in the afternoon or evening. Depending on the incoming King and Queen’s desires, there could be other activities. Tournaments and A&S displays/competitions are typical, along with Kingdom History displays. Traditional dates are in April and September.

Likely attendance: 150-300 depending on location and the popularity of the incoming monarchs.

Your responsibilities:

  • A large site, preferably with a pretty or grand hall for court. Medieval-style churches with big sanctuaries are great for this. School auditoriums can work but basketball hoops aren’t great for ambiance so you might need to put more time and resources into decorating the hall if its aesthetics are lacking. At the recent Coronation of Gareth and Juliana, the Shire of Ballachlagan put up banners, wall hangings, and faux stone sheets to improve the looks of the gym where court was held.
  • If the royalty want to hold a tournament (or two, or more), then you need indoor or outdoor space for the lists. Especially at spring Coronations, when the weather is more likely to be an issue, an indoor fighting option is desirable.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard and a feast. While it’s likely that fewer than half of the attendees will stay for the feast, it should be a somewhat grand feast with multiple removes.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs if there are martial activities.
  • Space for any other activities the Crown requests.

Optionally your responsibility, i.e., you could provide these but are not necessarily expected to do so unless requested by the incoming Royalty:

  • Someone to run an A&S display/competition
  • Someone to organize children’s activities
  • Someone to run dancing
  • Musicians for processionals
  • Marshals and MOLs for tourneys – you may be asked to provide these, but it’s more likely the Earl Marshal or the Kingdom marshals in charge of various areas, along with the Kingdom MOL, will handle them

NOT your responsibility:

  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to participate as a second.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Incoming royalty usually want their Coronation close to home, so groups nearest them are likely to be preferred.
  • The incoming royalty choose their Coronation site soon after winning Crown, which means you have a very brief window in which to assemble a bid.
  • Make sure to provide separate royalty rooms for the outgoing and incoming monarchs. One won’t be big enough to accommodate all of them and their retinues. Unlike other events with both the Crown and Heirs in attendance, the Prince and Princess will have a significant entourage and need space to sign scrolls just like the King and Queen.
  • If possible, find a site with multiple rooms. A hall that has nothing but one big room will make it difficult to run multiple activities, hard to walk around, and noisy to the point of overwhelming for some people.
  • Attendance can be highly variable for multiple reasons. Make sure your lunch cooks have a menu that can stretch and a backup plan for getting more food if more people than expected show up.


Another relatively easy event to run, this requires only indoor space and tables for the artisans to display their entries. The artisans bring their entries and documentation and sit with them during the day while the judges rotate through the entrants and discuss their entries face-to-face. A “wet” site is preferred to allow for brewing entries. This event is often on the smaller side so the site doesn’t need to be huge. Contact the Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences for more information. Traditional dates are in the spring and fall.

Likely attendance: 75-125 depending on location.

Your responsibility:

  • A large room or multiple rooms with plenty of tables and chairs. Expect 15-30 entrants. The Kingdom A&S Minister also needs a table for registration and scoring.
  • A lunch sideboard. A feast is nice not but required.
  • Space for court. This could be a separate hall in the site or the same room as the competition, but with the tables put away.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs if there are martial activities.

Optionally your responsibility:

  • If you have the ability to host martial activities as well as the A&S competition, that’s nice, but not required or expected. Remember that the focus should stay on the A&S entries.
  • Children’s activities.
  • Outdoor space for A&S activities that might be dangerous or dirty; e.g. metalcasting, forging, dying, etc.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Judges, scoresheets, etc. are all provided by the Kingdom A&S Minister.
  • Herald for court, though your local herald may wish to assist

Potential pitfalls:

  • The A&S Champs event is relatively new in the Kingdom rotation, so the format and needs could change in the future.


The Æthelmearc Æcademy can seem like a daunting event to run because it has so much going on, but it’s another one that is run almost entirely by the Kingdom. The Chancellor of the Æcademy solicits teachers and schedules the classes, and then monitors the classes during the day. You can learn more at the Æcademy website. Traditional dates are in the late spring and late fall. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Your responsibilities:

  • A site with multiple rooms for classes. Some Æcademies have had as many as a dozen classes running at a time, though 8-10 is a more typical number.
  • Outdoor space for War College classes, which can include any of the martial activities, but especially fighting and fencing. Pavilions or canopies in case of inclement weather are a good idea. Some of the martial classes might also want tables and chairs. Work with the Dean of the War College to determine what is needed.
  • A site booklet with a map of the rooms, and clear labeling of the classroom doors by number or letter so people can find them easily.
  • A lunch sideboard. Work with the Chancellor of the Æcademy to determine whether there will be a specifically-timed lunch break or an all-day sideboard.
  • Ideally, at least one classroom should have a sink or easy access to a bathroom or janitor’s closet for cleanup after messy arts like painting, woodblock printing, cooking, etc.
  • Space for court.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews

Optionally your responsibility:

  • A feast is nice not but required.
  • If there’s room in the kitchen, or the site has more than one kitchen, making kitchen space available for cooking classes is always appreciated.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Soliciting teachers and scheduling the classes. These are all done by the Chancellor.
  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to assist.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Attendance can be quite variable, and there’s no easy way to tell how many people to cook lunch for, though the Chancellor will probably be able to give you an estimate based on past Æcademy sessions. Your cooks should have a backup plan for getting more food if attendance is higher than expected.
  • If there is no designated lunch break, it’s important to keep food flowing to the sideboard on a constant basis as people will be grabbing something to eat between one class and the next. Attendees will be grumpy if the sideboard is bare in the 5 minutes they have to get lunch. Finger food is ideal since they may be taking the food to with them to the classrooms. If a particular classroom should NOT have food in it, make sure that’s clearly posted.
  • If all the martial activities are outdoors and the weather is bad, then people will be unhappy. Indoor space for fighting/fencing is highly desirable.

12th NIGHT

12th Night is probably the most challenging Kingdom-level event to host. Other than food and court, it has no built-in activities that are run by officers, though you can call on Kingdom officers for help. It can be boring if the group autocratting it doesn’t arrange for fun pursuits. It also carries the most risk because it’s held in the dead of winter, so a snowstorm can reduce expected attendance significantly, potentially causing the event to lose money – but the Kingdom will usually cover losses as long as you stuck to your planned budget. Traditional date is the first weekend in January. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Likely attendance: 150-300 depending on location and weather.

Your responsibilities:

  • A large site, preferably with a pretty or grand hall for court. Medieval-style churches with big sanctuaries are great for this.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard and a feast. This event typically has the highest percentage of attendees staying for the feast. It should be a grand one with multiple removes.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Space for any other activities the Crown requests.

Optionally your responsibility:

  • Games of various sorts, including board games, but also silly ones like a pillow fight tourney or a scavenger hunt/quest. An excellent resource for period games (some of them physical games that can be done indoors or outdoors, as well as board games) is the book Medieval Games by Master Salamallah the Corpulent of the East Kingdom.
  • Lord and Lady of Misrule. This is a very medieval custom where a cake has two tokens baked into it, and then pieces are distributed to the populace. The people who find the tokens become the lord and/or lady of misrule (gender not necessarily being relevant). You may need to discuss with the Crown whether they are willing to be temporarily displaced by the Lord and Lady of Misrule for court or the feast. It helps to have someone with a good sense of humor prearranged as an advisor to the Misrule couple, to suggest benign but amusing edicts they can make (all of the chivalry present are required to perform a dance, certain people are requested to come up with a skit or musical performance on short notice, new silly titles are bestowed on individuals, etc.).
  • Classes. If your site has enough small rooms, you might consider soliciting teachers for short classes. The Kingdom A&S Minister can help with this.
  • Competitions, like bardic, cookie baking, or A&S. You could also have an A&S Display. Sometimes the Crown holds Their Kingdom Bard competition at 12th Night, in which case all you need is a performance area as They will do the judging.
  • A display of Kingdom History. Contact the Kingdom Historian.
  • Fundraisers for the Kingdom, like a silent auction for which you solicit goods from artisans.
  • Rooms for meetings if the Crown or Orders request them.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to participate as a second.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Try to find a site with multiple rooms. A hall that has nothing but one big room will make it difficult to run multiple activities, hard to walk around, and noisy to the point of overwhelming for some people.
  • If possible, have your cooks hold off on buying/making most of the food until the last few days before the event. Keep an eye on the weather and adjust quantities of food up or down depending on what travel conditions will be.

Categories: SCA news sites

Word from Æthelmearc: In Memoriam – Viscountess Ivonne la Doucette de Rouen

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 12:41

The Æthelmearc Gazette has posted a memorial post following the passing of Viscountess Ivonne la Doucette de Rouen, formerly of the East Kingdom. It can be found by clicking here.

Filed under: In Memoriam, Tidings Tagged: aethelmearc, In Memoriam

Cremains of Roman soldiers found in cooking pots

History Blog - Tue, 2017-12-26 23:35

Archaeologists have unearthed remains of stone structures, Roman engineering and the cremains of several deceased legionaries in cooking pots at a Roman military camp just over half a mile south of Tel Megiddo in northern Israel. The monumental base (it was around 330 yards by 550 in area) is the only permanent, full-scale legionary camp discovered in the eastern Roman Empire. There are several in mainland Europe and we know there were major bases elsewhere in the Levant and east — Jerusalem, or rather, Aelia Capitolina, built on the ruins of Jerusalem after Titus’ razing of it in 70 A.D., had a large base — but they have yet to be found.

The site is known as Legio (later Arabicized to Lajjun) after the camp built in the first half of the 2nd century A.D. and for more than a century was home to the formidable Legio VI Ferrata, meaning the Sixth Ironclad Legion. In the wake of the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 A.D.), the emperor Hadrian kept them in the Legio camp to guard the strategically important supply, transport and communication lines between the coast and Jezreel Valley.

Legio VI had a proud history of fighting under some of Rome’s greatest generals. They were with Julius Caesar when he spanked Vercingetorix in Gaul, then with Marc Anthony and after his defeat in the Battle of Actium, they served under Octavian. The Ironclads were transferred from Syria to Judea just before the Bar Kochba Revolt and would remain there through most of the 3rd century. They were sent to the eastern frontier and Legio was dismantled by command of Diocletian at the end of the 3rd century.

The site has been excavated regularly for years. In 2013 and 2015, archaeologists unearthed numerous ceramic tiles stamped with the mark of the Legio VI Ferrata, and even stamped with the imprints of the hobnails from their caligae, the legionary’s sandal that earned Caligula his nickname because he charmed the legions fighting under his father Germanicus when he wore a miniature pair as a little boy. They also found individual hobnails from those sandals, scales from Roman armour and the remains of infrastructure like clay pipes, sewer channels and buildings.

This season’s excavation was even more dramatic: they discovered the remains of a monumental gate that led to the base’s the principia, the religious and military headquarters.

The principia was the heart of the Roman military base, a huge complex some 100 meters by 100 meters. Grand in size and in design, it had a huge colonnaded façade as well as a grand colonnade inside.

“The principia was not just the legionary commander’s headquarters; it was also the legion’s shrine. It included an open courtyard that housed a sanctuary for the legion’s standards, the revered symbol of the unit,” Strauss told Haaretz. […]

The principia was also the site of the treasury, the armory, and was where the scribes worked.

As is so often the case, the latrines yielded treasures of great importance. The excavation unearthed hundreds Roman coins, glass, pottery, animal bones and assorted other detritus that had been cast down with the excrement to the delight of archaeologists 1,900 years later.

They also found a hand-dug cave inside the camp that held a cooking pot filled with the ashes of a fallen and cremated comrade. It wasn’t even the only one.

“Cremation burials in cooking pots were a common practice among Roman soldiers at that time. We found this kind of burial all around the site,” Tepper told Haaretz.

Finding one’s final resting place in a cooking pot was not atypical of Roman burial practices at other Roman military sites, in Israel and around the Mediterranean, Tepper added.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

In Memoriam: Viscountess Ivone la Doucette de Rouen

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-12-26 20:32

Viscountess Ivone with her husband, Viscount Yoshina.

We are saddened to report the passing of Viscountess Ivone la Doucette de Rouen on the 17th of December.

Her Excellency joined the Society in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael in the early 1980s. Her costuming abilities were recognized immediately, and she received her Award of Arms in 1985 for her sewing skill. She would go on to create many amazing gowns, such as the very complex Elizabethan—her preferred period and style. Only a few years later, she received a Court Barony from the East Kingdom.

After a whirlwind courtship, she and Atai Sir Yoshina were married in 1985. Sir Yoshina was serving in the Air Force at the time, so she ended up traveling the world with him to places as diverse as North Dakota and Germany. While in the Middle Kingdom, she received its mid-level arts award, the Willow, again for her amazing skill as a seamstress. She and Yoshina also began building their household, House Atai, with many young military men joining as Yoshina’s squires. Ivone served as a surrogate mother for them all.

During their time in Europe, Sir Yoshina won the coronet of the then-Principality of Drachenwald, and together he and Ivone reigned over that fabled land from June of 1989 to January of 1990 as its 19th Prince and Princess.

Viscountess Ivone was recognized again for her skills as a seamstress by Drachenwald with their Order of the Panache in 1990, and the Orden des Lindquistringes for service in 1992, as well as by the East Kingdom with the order of the Silver Crescent for service at Pennsic 21 and a Laurel at Pennsic 22.

Ivone and Yoshina’s son, Aaron.

Viscount Yoshina and Viscountess Ivone returned to the U.S. in the early 90s, eventually settling in the Shire of Coppertree, where they have lived ever since. They adopted a son, Aaron, in the mid-1990s. Aaron was a youth fighter who eventually authorized to fight as an adult alongside his father. He is currently a college student studying to become a pharmacist.

Though health issues kept her from participating in the Society much over her last few years, Viscountess Ivone still continued her love of sewing, dogs, and horses.

Sir Anton von Hagenstein, formerly of Drachenwald and now of Calontir, lamented, “We have lost a fantastic Lady. I’ve known these fine people since the mid-1980s and both of them have played a very large part of my life. Ivone hand-made my vigil clothing (which still hangs next to my court garb), and [added] embroidery with important phrases of my native language. She always had a smile and open arms to everyone, and if she knew you had a problem large or small, she was helping you get through it. Together they laid the Accolade of Knighthood upon my shoulder, and made that moment … That moment that changed my life, in so many ways.”

Mistress Geirny Thorgrimsdottir of the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael said: “Ivone was my Laurel. She was one of my most important mentors. But most of all she was my friend. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend as loyal, witty, and impassioned about the things she loved as Ivone was.”

Countess Genevieve Chastellain D’Anjou of the Barony of Rising Waters in Ealdormere wrote: “Yesterday I lost one of my dearest and longest friends – Mary Ann Edgar [Viscountess Ivone]. We met when I was only 20. While I know her suffering from her longtime illness with COPD is over and she is at peace, I cannot stop the tears. Tears for her devoted husband she leaves behind. Tears for her beloved son (my godson) who made her so proud. Tears for her family and loved ones who grieve with me. Tears for myself for I will miss her sorely. Mary Ann taught me so much. Some were hard lessons and we sometimes butted heads, but I always knew that she loved me. I loved her for her unique fierceness and passion for her arts and her hobbies. In the SCA she was my Laurel, my mentor, my inspiration, my pain-in-the-neck, and my confidante. My heart is aching for my own loss. And I hope that she knew how much I loved her.”

Lord Deerwulf the Druid, formerly of the Shire of Aachental (now defunct, once located at SUNY Geneseo near Thescorre) and currently of Ansteorra, said: “At Pennsic one year, House Atai had encamped at Willow Point. The solar showers were pretty new, and there was only a little warm water in the mornings. The menfolk took to Morning Water Purification Ritual: basically an early version of the Ice Challenge. We would gather around a collected water container, and take turns immersing our arms, heads, whatever, into the icy cold water. On the morning in question, we were engaged in our ritual when a rather un-coffeed Ivone came out of her tent, saw us gathered around splashing the water. She harrumphed … and returned to the tent, muttering how silly Japanese were.”

The Æthelmearc Gazette extends its condolences to all of Viscountess Ivone’s family and friends.

Categories: SCA news sites

A little gift

History Blog - Mon, 2017-12-25 23:04

I hope you’ve all had a grand, warm, lucrative, family-and-friends filled Christmas Day. As it has been a tad busy, I’m going to keep it short with a little gift post in the form of pretty pictures. You might recall my recent article about The Portrait of Achille Deban de Laborde (1817). As I was in the neighborhood visiting family, I popped into the Clark Art Institute to enjoy its exceptional collection of Winslow Homers, George Inneses, Renoirs, Monets, Sisleys, Alma-Tademas, Sargents, Renaissance Old Masters and about a thousand other art historical gems.

I also made a special pilgrimage to the 18th century French portraiture room to see the youth in a replica of his father’s Napoleonic uniform. He is just as sweet and soft-eyed as he looked in the official release pictures.

In that same gallery is a painting by Louis-Léopold Boiully, a portraitist and genre artist who was highly celebrated in his time and managed to thrive from the ancien regime all the way through to the July Monarchy, although he did have a little less than pleasant moment with the Committee of Public Safety over the erotic undertone of his paintings which would have cost him his life had it not been for the discovery of a properly propagandistic Le triomphe de Marat (1794) in his studio. The genre paintings capture scenes of French society, street life and current events. Most of his portraits were of middle class people and celebrities, including Robespierre.

The painting in the Clark, however, is not a portrait, even though it’s in the portrait gallery. It is a trompe l’oeil from 1785 called, appropriately, Various Objects. It depicts what looks like a pinboard with letters, a nosegay of pansies, a black and white drawing, a glass bottle hanging from a string, a leather pouch, scissors, a switchblade and a drawing compass. I think it’s pretty great, and appreciate it all the more because it was Boiully who coined the phrase “trompe l’oeil.”

Happy holidays, everyone!

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Curia to be Held After the Market Day at Birka

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-12-25 12:37

Greetings to all who see these words,

As published in the January 2018 issue of Pikestaff
Ivan and Matilde, Tsar and Tsaritsa of the East Kingdom, will hold a Curia after the Market Day at Birka,
in the Barony of Stonemarche (Manchester NH), on Sunday 28 January 2018, starting at 10:00 am.

Details of the agenda will be posted on the Seneschal’s web page as soon as they are available.

in service,
Eadgyth aet Staeningum
Clerk of Laws

Filed under: Announcements, Law and Policy Tagged: curia

Roman coin hoard, lead coffin found by veteran’s group

History Blog - Sun, 2017-12-24 23:26

A group of military veteran metal detectorists have discovered a hoard of 250 Roman coins and a Roman lead coffin in Ilminster, Somerset, England. Detecting for Veterans assembled in an Ilminster field (the exact location is not being disclosed for its protection) this year for its annual Christmas charity dig in aid of The Veterans Charity and Talking2Minds. Member Kevin Minto made the first modest finds — a button, a fragment of lead — and then hit the jackpot when he found a Roman coin.

Being a responsible and conscientious metal detecting enthusiast, the group founder, former 1st Battalion Light Infantry Veteran, Jason Massey immediately called the county Finds Liaison Officer to determine how to proceed without harming the archaeological context. He was told an archaeological team would be on the way, but to continue to detect and dig, but to be cautious and document everything he found.

Over the next four days, Detecting for Veterans worked the field assiduously, ultimately unearthing 260 Roman coins ranging in date from 270-305 A.D., and one ring and two brooches. They were then joined by the Somerset County archaeologist Bob Croft and discovered the Roman grave site. The lead coffin dates to around 400 A.D. and archaeologists believe it a young woman’s coffin. This is an extremely rare find; just six lead-lined Roman coffins have been discovered in Somerset. Only 200 have been found in the entire country.

Laura Burnett, the Somerset finds liaison officer, said lead was a “fancy and expensive” way of being buried in Roman times.

“They’re probably using locally produced lead from the Mendips – so it might have been a bit cheaper here than in other parts of the county – but it’s an expensive thing to be buried in.” […]

There are about 200 similar lead coffins finds in the country but only six have been previously been discovered in Somerset.

“This is a very special site, a rare discovery of lead coffins,” Mr Croft said.

“Lead ones that we know go from Shepton Mallet to Wiveliscombe, and this central part of Somerset – so this one is an unusual one.

If the hoard is declared treasure trove (and it will be), local museums will be given the opportunity acquire it for the amount of its official valuation which will be divided between the finder and the landowner. That would make a great gift for the charities supported by Detecting for Veterans.

Archaeologists are still exploring the site and plan to continue into 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Queen’s gold and worker’s footprint to shine in Penn Museum’s new Mespotamian galleries

History Blog - Sat, 2017-12-23 23:51

On November 1st, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology began its first major renovation since it was founded in 1887. The building, a grand historical treasure in its own right, is in dire need of upgrades, especially systems. Most urgent is the air conditioning system which doesn’t need upgrading because it doesn’t actually exist. The museum gets hot in the summer and the body heat and moisture from visitors exacerbates the problem, putting the delicate objects on display at risk.

The three-phase renovation will create a new exhibition space with state-of-the art climate control technology and 6,000 square feet in which to showcase the Penn Museum’s stellar Near East collection. A pioneer in the field of Middle Eastern archaeology, the Penn Museum was the first in the country to send a team to explore Mesopotamian sites in 1887. They’ve been back hundreds of times since and collected more than 100,000 objects, making the Penn Museum’s Near East collection one of the greatest in the world.

More than 1,200 of those objects will go on display in the new suits of three galleries — Towards Cities, Ur: The Great City, The World of Cities — dedicated to Mesopotamian history, giving visitors a panorama of the evolution and development of culture and urban life in the cradle of civilization through objects of enormous rarity and significance.

The artifacts getting an abode worthy of them include the splendid headdress of Sumerian Queen Puabi, made from 24 feet of gold ribbon, 20 gold rings and long strands of lapis lazuli and carnelian beads. It was found by Sir Leonard Woolley during his excavation of the Royal Cemetery at Ur in 1928. Other Royal Cemetery stand-out pieces will go back on display in the new galleries, among them the bull head fragment from an ancient lyre made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and shell, the Ram in a Thicket statuette.

It’s not all glittering gold masterpieces of luxury materials. The breadth of the collection allows the Penn Museum to tell the story of how Mesopotamia moved from villages to large cities with massive populations and an unparalleled collection of wealth. Front and center in the new Middle East Galleries will be one of the museum’s most unusual Sumerian objects: a footprint left in a piece of wet mud brick in Ur 4,000 years ago. One of the world’s oldest wine vessels will be on display (a Neolithic pot discovered at Hajji Firuz Tepe, Iran, that dates to around 5400 B.C.), a baby rattle, a writing primer for children and many more objects that will give visitors a view into daily life from writing and record-keeping to agriculture, labour, meal preparation and burial practices over 10,000 years of Mesopotamian history.

The Middle East Galleries will take pride of place in the renovated museum, right next to the entrance hall. It officially opens to the public on Saturday, April 21, 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Turkey busts massive artifact smuggling ring

History Blog - Fri, 2017-12-22 22:40

Istanbul police have recovered 26,456 ancient artifacts and arrested 19 people in the biggest anti-smuggling operation in Turkish history.

Among the items recovered were a golden queen’s crown with an inscription of the Hellenistic god, Helios, a bust dedicated to Alexander the Great’s conquest of India and a statue of a goddess dating back to the Hittite era 3,000 years ago.

The 26,456 objects recovered also included Egyptian-origin statues and Phoenician-type teardrop vials.

“The retrieved artefacts are… more valuable than the artefacts in the inventory of an average size museum,” Istanbul police said in a statement.

One of the seized artifacts is a rare bird: a 3,000-year-old Mycenaean sword ostensibly owned by the hero Achilles himself. It’s not rare that some random object would be attributed to a hero of Troy — that kind of faux relic was venerated in temples for hundreds of years — but very few of them have survived in any recognizable form.

This archaeological bonanza was the hard-won result of three months of painstaking investigative work and surveillance of key suspects. Operation Zeus switched from tracking mode to busting on December 12th when six men in northwestern Turkey’s Duzce province were arrested in the course of attempting to sell some of the trafficked artifacts. They were interrogated and named names leading to more arrests in four other provinces.

Police haven’t been to determine how such a vast number of high quality artifacts were acquired or where they came from, but we know they were intended to be sold on the black market through art dealers and shady outfits in multiple countries. Investigations are ongoing. The objects will be given to the Istanbul Museum of Archaeology for further study and conservation.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Remains of large Wari temple discovered in Peru

History Blog - Thu, 2017-12-21 23:26

Archaeologists have discovered an ancient pre-Hispanic, pre-Inca Wari temple at the archaeological site of Espíritu Pampa in the jungles of Peru’s La Convención province. The team first found the walls shaped like a capital D, a characteristic design for Wari culture temples. A second, smaller D-shaped structure was found in the middle of the big D. Archaeologists believe this was likely an astronomical observatory, a key element of Wari worship and important section of the full temple. It may also have been used to perform religious rituals.

Also inside the larger temple walls, the archaeological team discovered two burial pits built with small slabs of stone. The first of these was found to contain tooth fragments from an animal. The second burial contained to large Wari ceramic vessels, a silver pectoral band and one silver crown or headdress. One of the pots was particularly striking (and very much typical of Wari craftsmanship), a stylized representation of a crowned individual with large and prominent eyes, nose and mouth. The crown is painted on and is first archaeological evidence that Espíritu Pampa was home to a ruling elite during the heyday of Wari power.

When that day no longer made hey, the last hurrah of Inca independence filled the void, and there’s evidence of that too in the physical structure of the temple. On the long edge of the D-shaped enclosure, there are architectural remains of square and rectangular design. This is Inca work. The interior confirmed this identification when archaeologists unearthed tupus, silver needles and ceramic bottles and assorted vessels used for ceremonial purposes.

This second, later habitation by the Inca had a brief but significant heyday in the 16th century. As the Spanish conquest proceeded at a precipitous rate, Manco Inca Yupanqui defied the Spanish rulers who had installed him to be their puppet king. When Francisco Pizarro left his two bratty younger brothers behind in Cusco as regents (ie, the real rulers), they were so vicious and disrespectful that Manco Inca rebelled. He fought them in open combat, besieging Cusco for 10 months. He was successful at first, but eventually left the highlands to the Spanish and moved to the remote jungle were he founded the independent Neo-Inca State in his new capital of Vilcabamba in 1539.

Not quite so new, as it happens. Vilcabamba and Espíritu Pampa are the same city. Manco wisely selected a spot that already had surviving ancient architecture (the Wari Empire lasted from around 600 A.D. to 1100 A.D.) to piggyback off on — a major advantage in the jungle — and then proceeded to do just that. The distant location did not keep the fledgling independent state safe. There was near-constant fighting in the hills, not just between Inca and Spanish, but between Spanish factions, the first civil war to break out between the conquistadores in Peru. It was that subconflict that ultimately led to Manco’s death. He was killed by members of the anti-Pizarro faction who were hiding out in Vilcabamba under Manco’s generous protection. In exchange for his support, they murdered him in 1544. Manco’s men returned the favor.

The artifacts have been recovered from the dig and are slated to get a thorough cleaning, conservation and examination by experts at the Physical Chemistry Unit of the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Corn Maze

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-12-21 19:49

Here continues the Record of the Reign of Gareth and Juliana, King and Queen of Sylvan Æthelmearc at Æthelmearc and East Kingdom War, called Corn Maze, November 11, AS 52, in Their Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais; as recorded by Lord Arias Beltran del Valle, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald.

As has been Their tradition, Their Majesties first called for those present attending their first event to appear before Them.  Their Majesties welcomed each to the Society and bid them well in their journeys to come within the SCA.  They then gave each a drinking vessel to carry with them as they attended future events with the Society.

Their Majesties then summoned before Them Reinhard Dobbeler.  His Majesty then read a letter composed by the Lady Angel Deth of House Sable Maul before the populace, highlighting with words from the rest of his House the hard work and willing spirit that Reinhard brings to the support of that House and his Kingdom.  For this honorable work was he Awarded Arms and made a Lord of Their Majesties’ Court.  The scroll was a work of embroidery by Lady Angel Deth.

Jakob Krahe was next called to appear before Their Majesties.  Having heard of Jakob’s hard work on the field and his willingness to work hard to set up events, They were grateful, and of a mind to make Their gratitude known by creating him a Lord of Their Court and Awarding him Arms. Scroll artist was unknown.

Their Majesties then summoned to Their Presence Lord Burgos.  Word of his continued improvement as a fighter and the joy he takes in learning the martial arts in defense of Their Kingdom had come to their attention, and for this were They of a mind to count him amongst Their Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll by Lady Ashling.

The presence of Lord Gunnar Ulfrbani was next demanded by Their Majesties.  They had heard of Lord Gunnar’s brilliant tactical mind on the fencing melee field, and his enthusiasm in sharing his love for that combat with those around him.  So too was he made a member of the Order of the Golden Alce by Their Majesties. Scroll by Baron Caleb Reynolds.

Their Majesties then summoned to Their Presence Lady Jan al-Thalab, called Fox.  Word had reached Their ears of Fox’s work for many years as a member of the Sylvan Army Support Services, or SASS, culminating most recently in her leading the group, bringing SASS to the fields at Pennsic and keeping Their armies well fed and hydrated.  For this, as well as her giving spirit throughout the Kingdom was she made a member of the Order of the Keystone. Scroll by Lady Gulsah Aydini.

Their Majesties then summoned before Them Barwnes Nest ferch Rhys, from the duty set before her that very day handing out scroll cases in court.  Their Majesties spoke to her of her history of service to the Kingdom, and her work in the difficult job of serving her home shire as Seneschal after being unexpectedly thrust into the role.  They felt that her Excellency’s devotion to service was no longer properly recognized, and so did They call for Their Most Noble Order of the Pelican, and bid them bear her away to determine a time that she should sit in vigil and contemplate elevation into that august Order.  Scroll by Lady Shirin of Susa.

Lord Grimbald Deth was then summoned before Their Majesties from his duties as one of the Queen’s Guard on this day.  Her Majesty thanked him for his continue devotion to serving as both guard and travelling great distances to do so, coming from his home in Atlantian land.  So did she name him her inspiration for the day, and awarded him a Golden Escarbuncle.

Their being no further business, the Court of Their Majesties was then closed.

Categories: SCA news sites